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Festival of Christmas Music and Readings sets Laidlaw Hall aglow

It’s always heartwarming to see Prep and Upper School boys working together. That’s why the annual Festival of Christmas Music and Readings is one of the College’s most popular traditions. Student musician played to a packed house of all ages, at the Festival of Christmas Music and Readings, Sunday, Dec. 1 in Laidlaw Hall.

“It’s the only concert of the year when boys from SK to IB2 participate together,” says Kathryn Edmondson, head of music at the Prep. “It’s great for young boys to see their role models at the Upper School — and for the boys from the Upper School to see where they started. “

Musical highlights include a joint performance with the BlueNotes and the Prep choir singing “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” by J.S. Bach. The wind ensemble also joined the Prep band for “As Summer was Just Beginning,” a selection of carols by Larry Daehn.

“The students really worked hard throughout the term during the rehearsal times,” says Edmondson, “but they really came together for a mass joint rehearsal the week before the concert.”

To bring it all to life, please enjoy these video highlights. (The first two are of pre-concert performances in the Upper School student centre.

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Faith Healer leaves audience grappling with the notion of truth

Faith Healer by Brian Friel is the gripping and moving tale of Irishman Frank Hardy, the faith healer, his wife Grace and his manager Teddy. Playing to a packed house in the David Chu Theatre, Nov. 28 to 30, it’s told in four hypnotic and lengthy monologues with each character recounting their version of the same story. The performance left the audience mesmerized and thinking about various interpretations of truth. The gripping production, directed by Upper School arts chair Judith Macdonell, starred IB2 student Sam Hodgkins-Sumner as Frank, IB1 student Christopher Tully as Teddy and Bishop Strachan School student Kate Urquart as Grace. These talented students had the audience hooked from the beginning as they listened intently, gradually piecing  together the story of the faith healer. Each performance was pure magic.

View video highlights below:

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UCC community painting gets official unveiling

It’s remarkable to see how creative the UCC community can be when you give people a paintbrush, pots of paint and a 16-foot canvas on the grass. Created on Association Day in September, the Jackson Pollock-style canvas was unveiled at the Upper School arts assembly on Monday, Nov. 25, for all to see and admire. Watch this time-lapse video to see the painting come together, thanks to dozens of artists’ colourful and playful contributions.


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UCC packs house for award-winning play

What a wonderful homecoming for Old Boy Ravi Jain ’99. The award-winning theatrical director brought a special discount code united pharmacy presentation of the play Iceland  to UCC. It played to a sold-out David Chu theatre crowd for a special one-night performance, Tuesday, Nov. 19, before going on a world tour. Iceland provided a searing dissection of the human impact of the financial crisis in 2008.

The audience was moved, shocked, speechless and all the while entertained, as they intensely watched the brilliant performances by actors Claire Calnan, Christine Horne and Kawa Ada. Each told their story, in monologue form, of how the financial crisis affected a landlord, tenant and prostitute.

The audience had the unique opportunity to not only experience the play, which addressed financial issues in theatre format, but following the play, to listen to industry professionals share their views on some of the play’s themes. Moderated by Karim Bardeesy, executive director of policy for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, the panel included Blake Hutcheson, president and CEO of Oxford Properties, Jill Denham, former vice-chair of CIBC and UCC board member, playwright Nicolas Billon and director Ravi Jain.

Hutcheson and Denham spoke of the integrity of the business and banking worlds in Canada during the financial crisis. They stressed the importance of reputation in the Canadian financial community, noting that it’s not possible to hide from disreputable behaviour, as people are able to do in countries with larger financial communities including the U.S.

The panel discussion provided a wonderful finish to this most memorable evening.

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UCC students in Fulford Cup Debate

l-r: William Labasi-Sammartino, Matthew Wang, Malcolm Risk and Michael Pusic

l-r: William Labasi-Sammartino, Matthew Wang, Malcolm Risk and Michael Pusic

Upper Canada College sent a junior and senior team to the first round of the 2013-14 Fulford Cup Debate at Ridley College in St. Catharines, Ont. on Nov. 16, with the juniors finishing seventh out of 19 teams and the seniors ranking 10th out of 18.

Year 2 student Malcolm Risk and Year 1 student Matthew Wang comprised UCC’s junior team and took part in a parliamentary style debate on the resolution: “Be it resolved that co-educational schools are preferable to single-gender schools.”

Senior team members and IB1 students Michael Pusic and William Labasi-Sammartino participated in a cross-examination debate for their prepared round on the resolution: “Should co-educational schools be preferable to single-gender schools?”

The final round was impromptu and both junior and senior debaters used the parliamentary style.

Wang tied for sixth place speaker in the junior division and received a citation.

The Fulford League annually sponsors three debate tournaments for high school debaters from its 19 independent member schools.


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Fall music night a great success


You’d never guess it was their first public performance as Upper School students. The UCC concert band, comprised entirely of Year 1 students, played beautifully at Fall Music Night, Thursday, Nov. 18 in Laidlaw Hall.

“It was the culmination of lots of hard work in a short span of time,” says head of music Tony Gomes. Under the tutelage of band leader Ashley Scott, the concert band played “Horkstow Grange” arranged by Michael Sweeney and “Hosts of freedom” arranged by Andrew Glover.

Indeed, it was a night of “firsts,” including the polished debut performance of the UCC faculty and staff chorus, On a Lighter Note. With 21 members and an extremely diverse range of performance experience, they sang “Jesus, joy of man’s desiring” by J.S. Bach with accompaniment from the UCC string ensemble and cellist and history teacher Kathryn Brookes.

“This is my first time singing since senior high school,” said academic dean Julia Kinnear as chorus members rehearsed in the Upper School main office prior to the concert. It was also the first choir experience for head of school executive assistant Barb Beecroft. She even learned to read music to prepare for the performance. Then there was the modest but professional-calibre singer and Latin teacher Catharine Erb who’d spent the past summer with the prestigious Tanglewood Festival Chorus in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts.

The audience of parents and UCC friends also enjoyed performances by the wind ensemble, the Blue Notes, the junior jazz band, the symphonic band, the intermediate jazz band and the jazz ensemble. Congratulations to all musicians for their hard work and talent.


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UCC debaters are dominant at McGill

mcgillUpper Canada College IB2 students John Lutz and Elliot Kaufman placed second out of 132 teams at the McGill High School Debating Championships in Montreal from Oct. 25 to 27.

While Lutz and Kaufman lost on a divisive 4-3 judging decision in the final, UCC’s Chris Taylor and Logan Ye finished in fifth place and made the semi-finals. Josh Caminiti and Alnur Kassim-Lakha finished 18th, while Kimathi Muiruri and Malcolm Risk finished as the tournament’s top junior team and placed 34th overall. Seven UCC teams finished in the top 40.

UCC dominated individual awards, as Lutz won the second speaker award, Taylor placed third and Kaufman finished fourth out of 264 participants. Kinton Cheung placed 19th, Caminiti and Kassim-Lakha tied for 20th, and Andrew Irwin placed 25th. Muiruri was the third-ranked junior speaker, while Risk was right behind him in fourth place.

Imran Jessa, Michael Pusic, Savinay Chopra, Will Labasi-Sammartino, Tristan Hopper, and Brent Leung also put in fine efforts for the Steven Penner-coached team.


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Strong results for debaters at Osgoode Hall

osgoodeteamTwo Upper Canada College teams excelled at the Osgoode Hall High School Debating Tournament at York University on Oct. 19 and 20.

The IB2 team of John Lutz and Elliot Kaufman finished second while debating a very timely resolution about removing Toronto mayor Rob Ford from office. The IB1 team of Andrew Irwin and Kinton Cheung also qualified for the Oxford Cup.

UCC debaters had impressive individual results as well. Kaufman was named top speaker while Lutz placed third, Logan Ye was eighth and Imran Jessa finished in 11th place.

Kimathi Muiruri, Malcolm Risk, Nitish Dhingra, Justin Lu, Brent Leung and Matthew Wang also represented UCC at the tournament, which included 70 teams and 140 participants from across Canada.


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Association Day draws rave reviews

It was a good omen when the sun was out and the temperature was in the high teens as folks started arriving for the new parent breakfast at Weston Hall at 8 a.m. on Sept. 28, and things only got better through the rest of Upper Canada College’s 35th annual Association Day.

The Blue Army led a parade of energetic Prep students up the avenue to the Upper School front steps for opening ceremonies and remarks from principal Jim Power, head of Prep and Upper Schools Don Kawasoe, Association Council president Jim Garner, A-Day chairs Jill Carmichael Adolphe, Johanne Dotsikas and Lucas Atkins, and head steward Andrew Callahan.

Activity was brisk at the booths and stalls lined up along the east-west road leading into the front of the Deer Park campus, as attendees purchased food from The Jon Wookey Market, the snack shack (which raised $2,035) and a handful of UCC clubs, as well as fresh produce grown in the Prep learning garden. They also scooped up free ice cream and popcorn from Greg’s and Kernels respectively. The Norval Outdoor Education Centre had a larger presence than normal, owing to the 100th anniversary celebration it will host on Sunday, Oct. 6. Three large Norval birthday cakes were cut up and served to anyone who wanted a slice.

The north-south avenue was full of interested people: getting information about the Think Ahead campaign and Upper School renovations while picking up free swag; learning about the Blues Booster Club, Prep Parents’ Organization and Parents’ Organization; watching and taking part in art demonstrations promoted by the Arts Booster Club; admiring the 1956 Chevrolet Deluxe 210 Handyman Wagon (which raised $24,100 for the Class of 1970 Scholarship Fund in an online auction); and purchasing books from Scholastic.

Bidding was hot and heavy for the array of items available in the silent auction, including gift certificates, flights, sports tickets, lessons, food and catering, books, wine, clothing, spa sessions and much more. All the winning bids added up to $21,000, which went towards offsetting the costs of A-Day.

Young ones who didn’t burn off all of their energy bouncing in the inflatable amusements and playing games in the expanded Kidzone used it to drench faculty and staff members in the ever-popular dunk tank, which raised almost $1,340 for the 2014 leaving class gift. Children could also launch balloon rockets and watch how far they travelled.

A-Tunes @ A-Day was a new addition this year, and it proved very popular with people as it showcased the musical talents of both UCC students and faculty members. The St. Jamestown YC Steel Orchestra was back again, and young Keith Moon wannabes could test their drumming speeds to round out A-Day’s music component.

Hundreds of hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages were sold as part of a barbecue lunch in a large tent in the Prep parking lot which raised $4,800, and another $1,845 came from a hospitality area on the Simon and Kit Leung Terrace that satisfied those desiring a beer or two while they talked with friends and watched the varsity soccer and football games.

A major announcement was made just prior to the varsity football game as it was revealed that, after a year of requested anonymity, Old Boy Stu Lang ’70 had stepped forward as the $11-million donor that represents the largest single gift in Canadian independent school history. The donation in support of financial assistance is the leadership gift in UCC’s $100-million Think Ahead campaign, which has now raised $80.8 million.

In honour of Lang’s gift, UCC will launch the Lang Scholar Program to ensure a legacy of furnishing current students with leadership and other character development opportunities.

Sports have always been a big part of A-Day, and that was certainly the case again this year. Prep Soccerfest pitted the various colour houses against each other in a morning tournament, while Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association competitions took place between UCC and other schools in various age groups in soccer, volleyball and football. The home teams came away with an impressive record of 11 wins, two ties and two losses.

Old Boys also got in on the action at the Michael Evan Jurist Memorial Tennis Tournament, Allan Harris Old Boys Soccer Tournament and a ball hockey game between the graduating classes of 1978 and 1983.

Separate receptions were held at noon for Old Boys from the leaving classes of 1963 and 1988, who received 50- and 25-year ties respectively. A reunion dinner was held in the evening for Old Boys from all graduating classes with years ending in three or eight, which capped off a full day on campus and brought another A-Day to a close.

Here are some photos that captured the enthusiasm of A-Day:


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